This article will not be the typical question/answer session, as I have chosen to use this opportunity to talk about my recent experience of being involved in a crash. Last month, I responded to the report of a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 94 in central Minnesota. I arrived minutes after the crash occurred and found a single vehicle that ran off the left side of the road into the median and struck the cable median barrier. I parked my squad car completely off the main lanes of travel onto the left shoulder and activated my emergency lights. The road I had traveled on up to this point had been very slippery for the last five miles. Despite the blowing snow, visibility was good across the flat and open area. I returned to my squad car after checking on the driver. A few seconds after I got back into my squad car, I was struck from behind.
The vehicle that had hit me had been traveling along at freeway speed, lost control, spun out and struck my squad car. That impact then sent my squad down into the median and slammed it up against the vehicle I was initially helping from the earlier crash. The only way I can describe what I felt at that moment was stunned; but, I knew I was good enough to move on and do what I needed to do. Due to the damage and where my squad car now sat, I had to exit through my driver’s window. I then checked on the occupants from both vehicles. Everyone was alright–amazingly!
Despite being hit and injured, I consider myself very lucky. I feel fortunate that I was able to go back to work immediately. Vehicles are replaceable, people are not. Unfortunately, these types of crashes happen far too often. On average, there are approximately 30 Minnesota State Patrol squad cars hit along the roadside each year, injuring numerous Troopers. The reason why I wanted to share my story was to help make more people aware. It’s simple, move over and slow down. Here is what the law says:
- When traveling on a road with two or more lanes, you must keep over one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated — ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance and construction vehicles.
- Reduce speed if you are unable to safely move over a lane.
- Failing to take these actions endangers personnel who provide critical and life-saving services. Fines can exceed $100.
I would like to add this: as a courtesy and when able, move over and slow down for any vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian you see along the highway. By doing so, you not only will keep yourself and everyone else safer, you will contribute to reducing the number of unnecessary crashes on our roads. I also would like to add, PAY ATTENTION. Too many crashes continue to be caused by distracted drivers. When we start accepting responsibility and hold ourselves accountable for the actions and choices we make on every commute- no matter how short or long it may be– only then will we make the true progress we need to reach the goal of “Towards Zero Deaths.”
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, firstname.lastname@example.org).